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Crappie USA Classic Awards

At this year's classic, several special awards and presentations were made at the various banquets. Classic contenders, family, guests, national sponsors and our staff partook of the eventsin a very pleasant atmosphere that dominated the whole week of festivities. "This year's special recognition for the Sportsman of the Year" award went to Ed Steward, of Ft. McCoy, FL. Presented by last year's recipient, William "Doc" Kohler of Caro, IL., and Charlie Rogers, Crappie USA Board member and Southern Pro Lures National Sales Manager, Stewart seemed quite surprised in and most appreciative. "I consider it a great honor to receive this award and I will cherish it very much," said Stewart, a Classic Qualifier, ACA member and avid crappie angler. "This has been a unique year for me and uncertain at times. My health has been a factor and I told my doctors if I couldn't crappie fish, then there wasn't much use in living! I'm proud to be here and look forward to the future tournaments and getting to-ether with all you guys. I love the atmosphere of these things." Earlier this spring, Stewart was placed on the heart transplant list by his doctors in Florida and had to wear a beeper and be within two hours of the hospital should a matching heart be found. As the spring rolled around and the Crappie USA tournament trail got underway, Stewart found himself suffering from cabin fever. So much so, in fact, that he told his doctors to remove his name from the nationwide heart transplant list for 48 hours so he could fish some of our tournaments. He would return home and have his name placed back in the priority status until another tournament rolled around. Now that's a dedicated crappie angler and we tip our hat to Ed Stewart and hope to see him at the "Fall Fling" in October on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes.

What does $1 Million Dollars look and feel like? That was the question on the minds of both Mark Mussman of Camanche, IA., and partner Michael Vicks of Clinton, IA., as they pondered over which envelope to draw at the final awards banquet at the Classic. The Iowa anglers had a 1 in 100 chance of becoming the first millionaire team in the history of crappie fishing. By landing the biggest crappie at the Classic, they earned the chance to draw for the big jackpot. Were they nervous and excited? No doubt but they kept their cool in the midst of a cheering crowd. After all, thousands of crappie anglers along the Crappie USA national tournament trail had hoped to be standing where these guys stood at that moment. The duo approached the table where 100 sealed envelopes lay awaiting their arrival. In the moment of silence, they picked number 62, the envelope that corresponded with their boat number in the tournament. They opened it and discovered they had won two Zodiac Sport Watches but the mega prize, had evaded them. The winning envelope was opened in front of the banquet crowd and discovered to be number 37!

In appreciation for this dedication this year to the sport of crappie ishing, Crappie USA President and National Tournament Director Darrell Van Vactor was presented a nice plaque and gift from tournament anglers and ACA members Jim Carmen of Ledbetter, KY., and Jay "Doe" Eacret of Paducah, KY.

"I think I speak for a lot of the anglers along the trail this year when I say how much we appreciate your dedication and effort to making this a success for the first year, said Carmen. :I know you and the staff had to do a lot of work in a short time to make it happen and thanks to you, we've got a bright future for crappie fishing."

As a result of his ACA Charter Membership, Richard D. Merrell of Talladega, AL., had his name placed in a drawing for an all expenses paid fishing trip on Kentucky Lake with 1996-97 National Crappie Champions Jim Perry and Steve McCadams. The trip comes complete with lodging, meals, non-resident licenses, etc. Watch future issues of Crappie Talk for a story on the trip.

Brothers Greg and Steve Freeman of Eddyville, KY., received the Southern Pro $500 Bonus Award for the team landing the biggest stringer of crappie while exclusively using Southern Pro jigs along the Crappie USA 1997 national tournament trail. The brothers won the Kentucky/Barkley north event with a 10-fish limit weighing 18.50 pounds, crediting their catch to Southern Pro Umbrella and Little Hustler jigs.

Fish America Foundation, the Virginia based organization which provides financial assistance for grassroots projects directed at restoration and enhancement of sport fish populations and water quality, received a check for $8,400-plus from Crappie USA. Fish American Foundation Managing Director Tom Marshall attended the Classic and received the donation thanking crappie anglers for their contributions in 1997.

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